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Crucial Conversations Summary

Cover_Images_Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High written by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan.

What is Crucial Conversation?

The Conversation is a day to day chats, you do with your friends, colleague, relative and coworker.

But sometimes the small conversation turns into a serious issue and can have a huge impact on your lives.

As you know the importance of crucial conversations.

But, you often back out.


Because you think you make the matter worse. In the time of crucial conversation, you might do three things.

You might avoid talking on the touchy issue.

You decide to talk but didn’t handle the conversation.

You talk on the serious issue and solve the matter.

In a crucial conversation, you are at your worst behavior. Therefore, you make the matter worse and say things that later you regret.

Actually, when the conversation turns into a serious issue your emotion prepares you to fight.

As two tiny organs sit upon the kidney, pump adrenaline into the bloodstream. Then, the larger muscles of the body (arms and legs) get more blood in comparison to the brain.

Therefore, the brain gets less blood. And it reduces the ability to make a quality decision.

Forming the pool of information in conversation.

What is Dialogue?

Dialogue is a process, which allows two people to talk and share their viewpoints and thoughts.

The Why, of Dialogue.

The dialogue allows you to collect data.

Imagine, Ammi and Sam are having a conversation on a tough issue.

In the first step, Sam doesn’t need to worry about what Ammi is saying. But the goal is to let her put out feelings and thoughts. If Sam didn’t play safe, Ammi will end up the conversation in a debate.

The priority of Sam is to construct the environment so that Ammi can freely share her thoughts, views, and opinion.

Focus on what you want from conversation.

To handle a crucial conversation. You need to control your emotions. And ask a crucial question to yourself, What I want from this?

When you don’t know what you want, you will lose your temper and start arguing. Whisper in your head What I want from this?

Because it helps the body to send sufficient blood to the parts of the brain that is responsible for solving complex problems.

During a serious conversation, the level of adrenaline increases and you will lose the ability to make authentic decisions.

As part of the brain, responsible for decision making gets less blood. So it affects decision-making ability.

Once you know your end goal, you will avoid making foolish choices. Asking the crucial question, help your brain to keep the focus on the end goal and stop you from distraction.

Learn to look at the safety sign in conversation.

The first step is to observe the content of the conversation. And the second is to look, how she is reacting.

Train your brain to see when the conversation turns crucial. In the time of crucial conversation, either your eyes get dried, or your stomach gets tight.

Everyone has a different sign, And you need to learn to identify your sign.

Little signs indicate to step back and build safety first. Because your emotion starts boiling up and when you don’t feel safe. The brain starts shutting down and your emotion prepares you to fight.

If you fail to build safety then she will end up in silence or violence.

Make It Safe so you can talk about anything.

In this, you’ll learn how to build safety. To build safety you need to understand the concept called, mutual purpose.

What is Mutual Purpose?

The mutual purpose isn’t a technique that works on your benefit. It is a way to provide an outcome that works for both favors.

You can use four skills to build mutual-purpose. Here is the step-by-step procedure.

The four skills can learn with the acronym of CRIB:

  1. Commit yourself to find a mutual purpose.
  2. Recognize the purpose behind the strategy.
  3. Invent a mutual purpose.
  4. Brainstorm new strategies.

Don’t forget to respect other emotions and feelings. Otherwise, the mutual purpose will take a back seat and you’ll end up in a debate.

How to remain in dialogueue When You are Angry.

Example: Consider a presentation in which Maria with her colleague Louis delivering the presentation, turning the slide and explaining the meaning.

In the meantime, Louis was standing on the other side of the stage waiting for his turn while Maria giving the presentation.

After a few minutes later, Maria hold for a second to take a breath. Louis begins to deliver the content and deliver almost 95% of the content.

Maria becomes angry with Louis’s behavior. In the end, Maria gets her chances back, there is nothing left to say. Maria begins to feel dishonest. So she decides, she will not talk to Louis(taking a cheap shot).

Now in the example Maria taking the cheap shot.

She thoughts, it is the valid response, she can take. But she doesn’t realize that it is the response of her emotions.

In this case, Maria re-tell the story in her mind that Louis describes all the points. So he gets an opportunity to meet the boss privately.

This story generates emotion, and she takes the decision(not talking to Louis). The decision was based on her emotions.

In a circumstance like these, you might react in two ways, silence or violence.

But you can tell a different story and control your emotions. It is the story that urges you to take action. You can retrace your path and build safety from the beginning.

The first step is to stop doing ‘what you are doing’ and then think ‘why you are doing this’. Because it will help you to reach the starting point. The point where you distract from the conversation.

Analyze your story because it helps you to determine the movie you are playing in your mind that causes you to generate emotions.

Tools to convence partner in crucial conversation.

Five tools you can use to manage the touchy conversation.

  1. Share the facts.
  2. Tell your story.
  3. Ask for another person path.
  4. Talk tentatively.
  5. Encourage testing.

The starting three points help you to describe what to do and the last two points describe how to do it.

Share your facts:

You should start your conversation with the facts. If you don’t know the fact, take the time to gather it.

After gathering facts, dress up your facts and convert them into a story. Don’t just stick with the facts.

Now, you need to describe the conversation from your point of view. So she can see the issue from your side.

Tell your story:

When you begin to tell your facts in the form of a story. In the meanwhile, you should also check for safety.

You must ensure, she doesn’t lose her temper.

Use contrasting because just blaming her isn’t the solution. Contrasting can help you to point out what you like and what you do not.

Ask for other paths:

In this step, you will learn how to do it. However, up to now, you learn what to do

In this, you need to encourage your partner to express her feeling, thoughts, and stories. Listen to her carefully even when the stories sound controversial because your motto is to drain her tank first.

Talk tentatively:

In this, describe your facts in the form of a story rather than raw facts. As it is difficult for minds to digest raw facts.

Encourage testing:

Encourage her to share the story.

It matters how you invite her to share feelings and thoughts. Develop a genuine interest that shows you are interested to know her viewpoints.

Tools to urge our partner to speak.

Four tools that open her to speak. You can remember this with an acronym of (AMPP) ask, mirror, paragraphs, and prime. Tools encourage her to speak even when she was in silence mode or violence mode.


The first step is to ask her to share her.


Mirroring suits when the emotions and body posture aren’t coordinating with each other.

Mirroring is an unconscious body moment in which one person mirrors the speech pattern, gesture of another person.


Asking and mirroring help you to pour out her feelings and thoughts. But once you get an idea of the content you can use paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing is the repetition of the participant words in your own words. It allows you to verify that you understand the message of the participant.

Paraphrasing helps you to build additional safety. Paraphrase her words. But don’t use the exact word. Be careful not to repeat what she is saying.


Priming is used when the participant is still in silence or violence mode.

Priming is a technique to offer your best guess of the situation so that she can open up.

Now what happens? If she opens up and starts sharing her views. But, you didn’t agree.

At this moment, you should go for ABC (Agree, build, and compare).

Sometimes, opinion don’t meet. Instead of blaming and saying you are wrong. You should say “I think I see things differently” and share our path via ABC skills.


If you agree with her point of view. That’s ok. But if you didn’t, simply deny politely.


If you didn’t agree, clearly point out, where you agree and where you don’t.


When two of you see things differently. Don’t say, you are wrong, simply compare your views.

outcome of the crucial conversation.

You can make an authentic decision in which everyone relies on. But, to make an authentic decision you need to turn the final choice to other people.

Especially to the participant that influence by the decision. You can use three tools to make an authentic decision.


Invite her so that she can add her thought, and feelings, before making a final decision.


Voting as the name suggests. It allows you to find a better answer between two or more alternatives.


It’s a frustrating process as it takes everyone’s opinion before making the final decision.

At Last: Here are my favorite Quotes from this book.

  • In truth, everyone argues about important issues. But not everyone splits up. It’s how you argue that matters. ― Kerry Patterson.
  • It is the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogueue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer. ― Kerry Patterson.
  • One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears—by listening to them. ― Kerry Patterson.
  • Practice doesnot make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. ― Kerry Patterson.
  • The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.

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Above article is the extract version of the book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” written by “Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan”.

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